I used to have horrible mom posture. My head entered the room before my body did. My butt was tucked under, and I was almost bent in half most of the time.
Bad posture was literally a pain in the neck. And head, and back, and hips…
Nothing I tried helped much. I just couldn’t figure out how to train my body to be tall and comfortable. Until Wendy.
I think it’s because she helped me understand the way my body connects and how it’s not about being perfect but about finding the right balance for me.
I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m much better. I’m even measuring taller at the doctor’s office.
Since Wendy has helped me with my ‘mom posture’ I asked if she could share some tips with you too.
Pregnancy and mothering are not especially kind to our posture. The shoulders come forward, the upper chest sinks back, a flattish butt or a poochy tummy – Wow – it’s not exactly a list of Body Fabulousness is it?
But a few adjustments to the way your body is ‘stacked on itself’, will bring not just a more sassy aesthetic and a confidence boost – but will actually directly affect abdominal and pelvic floor function, and issues such as diastasis or stress incontinence. Awesome. Now you’re standing up straight aren’t you?
First, posture and alignment aren’t entirely the same thing. A ballerina, a soldier, a gymnast or a runway model all have entirely different ideas of what great posture looks like. ‘Nice posture’ is culturally defined. Alignment however, is a bunch of physics and mechanics of how stuff works. There’s an optimum place for everything to function efficiently, smoothly and with minimum wear and tear.
How your body is aligned, how your legs line up over your feet, how your pelvis, your rib cage, your head, how your whole body bears weight and movement, directly affects your the health of your joints and muscles.
But alignment also affects how your body, specifically your abdomen and pelvis, withstand pressure.
When your body is not able to withstand the natural intra-abdominal pressure inside it – thats when you get diastasis recti, when your pelvic floor muscles don’t do their job, even when you get hernia or pelvic organ prolapse. Quite literally, somethings got to give. And that’s when stuff starts pushing out, falling out or popping out. Not good.
When you get a kink in your garden hose, the pressure inside the hose builds and then it balloons under the pressure, the water squirts out everywhere like crazy or the hose leaps off the faucet. Instead of nice smooth flow, because of that kink, you now have high pressure and leaks.
If your body is on a kink the whole time, thats what’s happening inside. So you can do Pilates or Crossfit till you drop – heck you could even get surgery and sew it all up… but you haven’t addressed the forces inside still pushing out.
So Sweet Mama, let’s get you a little better aligned and turn down the pressure.
MY 5 TOP MOM POSTURE CORRECTIONS YOU CAN MAKE RIGHT NOW
1. High heels, in fact any heel at all (including the inch thick cushioning under the heel of your running shoes!) are messing with your alignment. Your muscles and joints are actually just trying really hard not to have you fall flat on your face when you tilt your body forward on a heel. Quads are on permanent contraction and your knees are taking the strain, butt clenched under, tummy pushed out… there’s a whole bunch of kinks going on.
The best shoes for your tummy and pelvic floor are flat, ideally with room for your toes to wiggle and your feet to feel the ground beneath you. Minimal, or barefoot is great.
2. Theres’ a distinct possibility that your rib cage is sitting out in front of your pelvis, rather than on top of it. This shear or ‘rib thrust’ is a major kink in the system and factor in your body’s ability to narrow a diastasis recti or get a better functioning strong core. Try this to see if yours does…
Stand with your back against the wall, the back of your head, shoulders and arms all touching the wall. Try to relax your tailbone so your bottom isn’t tucked underneath you, and aim the backs of your thighs to the wall too.
Your bra strap at your mid back should be touching the wall, but if it isn’t, try dropping your ribs down and back until it does. Your head may come away from the wall to make this happen. But your pelvis shouldn’t move to achieve it! So your lower back shouldn’t be touching the wall. There should be a nice little gap. It’s a natural reaction to tuck the pelvis to get your back against the wall – so be aware and try not to. Try to keep tailbone untucked, a gap between lower back and wall, but bra strap touching.
The shear of your ribs is what has them out in front of your pelvis – that’s the kink.
And relax… It’s OK, lots of little shifts is what this is about. Just knowing it’s there is the first step!
3. Check in your butt. If you’re sitting down right now (see No. 4), stand up, and stick your butt out. Not by sticking your chest out – that didn’t actually stick your butt out at all – it just stuck your chest out so it looked like you stuck your butt out. So bring your ribs back and down, and then stick your butt out by tilting your pelvis. Butts are supposed to stick out. But due to ingrained cues to ‘tuck your tailbone’, we got used to a sort of permanent low level clench and the resultant flat butt. Out and proud, Ma’am. Out and proud.
4. Stop sitting down so much. It’s super bad for your alignment to be always bent at the hip and the knee. Consider a standing desk, stand up, walk, stretch and move about as much as you can to wake up your butt muscles so they can do their very important job of being standing, weight bearing, walking butt muscles… not sitting down flat ones.
5. Stop sucking in your tummy. This one is tough for many women – we’re so used to holding it in, wanting it to look flatter…’engaging’ it. But when you keep sucking in your tummy you’re actually not engaging your core at all, you’re causing kinks, and you’re not allowing your poor ab muscles to work naturally at all. Sucking your tummy in is making your abs weak, not strong. So save the sucking in for the moment when the photographer says ‘say cheese!’ if you must… and then let go.
And finally, don’t expect any of this to just… happen. Adjustments to the way you hold you body and the way you move will feel odd for a while. You’ll forget, you’ll need to keep checking in and making little changes. Shifting your alignment to a more optimal place is not an exercise regime you do in class once a week, or for 6 weeks every day then stop. It’s an ongoing, little-and-often series of adjustments to put your body in a better mechanical place, all the time. So don’t get overwhelmed by all the information or expect instant results or changes. Every time you make a little change, you’re doing some good, relieving the pressure… un-kinking the kinks.
For more information on the MuTu System, click here. As always, InspiredRD readers get 15% off any MuTu System with the code “INSPIRED15″.
UK-based Mom of 2 Wendy Powell is founder of the internationally recognized and sought after MuTu® System program. She has accrued over 12 years experience, proven record and study in the pre and postpartum fitness industry. Connect with Wendy by signing up to receive information on the MuTu System website, on Facebook, Twitter + Pinterest. Programs can be downloaded online, or DVDs shipped internationally, all available from the website.
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